So we’ve seen that Jesus was full of grace and truth, and we’ve seen what a community of grace and truth looks like, but how do we actually begin to build a culture of grace and truth?
It’s one thing to get the diagnosis, but it’s quite another to become healthy! If we’ve noticed we have a Hangout Culture, or a Call-Out Culture (see the previous post if you don’t know what these mean), how do we begin to move toward the Call-In Culture, full of grace and truth?
Beyond tips and techniques
First of all, it’s important to recognize that we can’t build a new culture by learning a couple new “leadership tips.” Tips and techniques will only put a band-aid on what is a far deeper problem.
If we want to see lasting change in our life and leadership and build a Call-In Culture, we need to move beyond tips and techniques and learn posture and presence. We don’t “tweak” ourselves into a new way of being. We have to go beyond just modifying behavior and step into transformation of character. Beyond striving and into becoming.
[tweet “Leaders need to move beyond tips and techniques and learn posture and presence.”]
We also need to go beyond “leadership” and into “life.” Culture-building isn’t a “leadership” issue (at least not in the way we normally think about leadership).
For example, if you try to build a Call-In Culture at work but your relationship with your spouse and children doesn’t change, you’re not getting it!
This is a relational issue, a human issue, an all-of-life issue. You can’t be full of grace and truth in the board room and empty at home. That’s impossible! You are who you are, no matter where you are. Being full of grace and truth isn’t a skill we learn so we can lead our staff better, it’s a completely new way of being that will affect every aspect of my life!
So with those important caveats said, let’s move on into the nuts and bolts. How do we begin to build a Call-In Culture, full of grace and truth?
Ask questions first
The absolute best thing you can do at first is ask yourself some questions. Become compassionately curious about yourself. Why do you find it difficult to calibrate grace or truth? What’s going on in your heart that’s causing you to shrink back from telling the truth or being gracious?
[tweet “Become compassionately curious about yourself.”]
Better yet, find someone who can ask you some great questions to help you think outside your box. This is why I’ve found coaching to be the very best vehicle for sustained personal transformation.
I’ve found that fear is often the main issue for those who are stuck in a Hangout Culture. If that’s you, begin by asking, “What am I afraid of?” Let your imagination go to the worst case scenario, and then ask, “Why is that so terrifying for me?” Explore how you can trust God in that area of fear.
I’ve also found that flesh is often the main issue for those who are stuck in a Call-Out Culture. (By “flesh,” I mean using human effort to try to make something good happen.) If that’s you, begin by asking, “What am I trying to prove?” or “What am I trying to make happen?” Often the answer will be something that’s good in and of itself, like “I want my family to stop fighting.”
But in our desire to make those things happen, we almost always end up employing manipulation, intimidation, and control. Instead we need to let go of these tactics and trust God with the results we want to see. Explore how you can let go of trying to make things happen and trust God’s grace to win the day.
(For more on fear and flesh, check out this blog post.)
We ask questions first because compassionate curiosity about the things that are tripping us up is the first step in opening our lives to God’s transforming power.
Worry ’bout yo’self!
In both cases above, we are trying to get other people to do things. We are trying to engineer outcomes, instead of paying attention to our own anxieties and ambitions. Some good general advice in building a culture of grace and truth, then, is to simply “Worry ’bout yo’self!”
Man, that video cracks me up every time. It’s great advice, too! Stop trying to get other people to do things! Whenever you’re tempted to manipulate or engineer, stop. Instead of moving outward toward the people you’re trying to control, move inward and pay attention to what’s happening in your heart.
When it’s time to have a conversation about it, talk mostly about yourself. Instead of pointing out someone else’s faults, talk about how their actions affected you. Own your emotions and responses and don’t assume you know why the other person did what they did.
Especially if you’re stuck in a Call-Out Culture, one of the first disciplines you can start doing today is simply expressing empathy. It brings the grace of God to bear immediately on the other person.
Check out this powerful video of Brené Brown explaining empathy.
I’m embarrassed by how long it took me to consistently express empathy with my wife and kids. I avoided it for years because I didn’t understand how powerful it was. Empathy seemed like a weak thing to me. I wanted to solve problems, not talk about feelings! But I was amazed at how many times problems got resolved quickly and effectively when I led with empathy.
In fact, most of the time it wasn’t me solving the problems, it was the person I had just calibrated empathy toward! Empathy is empowering, because the assumption behind it is, “You are valued, you are loved, and I believe in you.”
Expressing empathy is one of the healing and humanizing things you can do for someone, and it’s an immediately actionable step for those who are stuck in Call-Out Culture.
For those who are stuck in Hangout Culture, one thing you can start doing today is establishing and maintaining boundaries.
Boundaries mean that I take responsibility for my stuff and you take responsibility for yours. It means I don’t try to get you to do things through control, manipulation or intimidation. I refuse to use fear, guilt, or shame to get you to do what I want.
Here’s Henry Cloud explaining boundaries in five minutes:
(By the way, I think Boundaries saved my marriage when I read it years ago!)
Most of the time Hangout Culture is caused by a leader with poor boundaries who is taking responsibility for everyone else’s dysfunction. So if that’s you, what is the first boundary you need to set in order to begin moving toward a Call-In Culture?
Grace + Truth = Love
Another way of describing a culture that’s full of grace and truth is that it is simply a place where God’s love pervades all things. God’s love always tells the truth, and is always gracious. Both grace and truth are always turned up all the way to 11.
God doesn’t stop being truthful when he expresses his grace. Neither does he stop being gracious when he tells the truth. It’s 100% grace and 100% truth all the time.
This is the goal of the Call-In Culture, that it’s completely overflowing with grace and truth all the time. It’s about empathy AND boundaries, righteousness AND peace, grace AND truth.
[tweet “Empathy AND boundaries. Righteousness AND peace. Grace AND truth.”]
We learn to build this kind of culture as we are immersed in the love of God. As we begin to soak up God’s love, it transforms our posture and presence and we are able to let go of our fears and ambitions, trusting God for outcomes and building communities full of grace and truth.
Love this, Ben.
@Sue Thanks Sue!
Nathaniel Perkins says
Ben..as a husban, father, pastor and leader…all three blogs on grace and truth are life changing…I’m absorbing it all.. Thank you
Nathaniel Perkins Really glad to hear that, Nathaniel! Blessings.